Church groups and stigma
This action research study of this research seeks to demonstrate the potential contribution of grassroots community groupings to the reduction of HIV and AIDS stigma in eastern, Zimbabwe. The motivation to pursue such a study emerged after identifying that in the academic and policy literature reference is increasingly made to the need to encourage community participation in stigma interventions. However, understandings of what forms such participation should take are still in their infancy. Much remains to be learned about the pathways through which group participation reduces stigma and builds AIDS competence. The study explores one potential pathway: the possibility that community conversations provide safe social spaces in which community members can understand the roots of stigma and develop locally appropriate strategies for tackling it.
Three rounds of community conversations were held between May 2008 and January 2009, with sixty members of the Apostolic sect, Anglican and Roman Catholics. Participants discussed possible ways of tackling stigma and sought to understand factors that would facilitate or hinder them in putting these strategies into action. Two focus group discussions were held with equivalent Apostolic sect, Anglican and Roman Catholics in different sites (still in Manicaland) at the end of the study period to serve as a control group for comparison purposes.
Our data revealed that community conversations workshops provided participants with opportunities to formulate and implement a range of creative plans to tackle stigma in their communities. However over time it emerged that various obstacles stood in the way of community members putting these plans into action. Structural factors including poverty limited lack of access to health services. We conclude that community conversations is such a vital tool in promoting reflection, action planning and AIDS competence – but would need to be complimented by structural changes such as improving access to health services.
Project related publications
Nhamo-Murire M, Campbell C, Gregson S: Community Group Membership and Stigmatising Attitudes Towards People Living with HIV in Eastern Zimbabwe. Journal of Community Health. 2014. In press | free access
Campbell, C., Skovdal, M., & Gibbs, A. (2010). ‘Creating social spaces to tackle AIDS-related stigma: Reviewing the role of Church groups in sub-Saharan Africa’. AIDS and Behaviour | free access
Nhamo, M, Campbell, C, Gregson, S (2010) Contextual determinants of HIV prevention programme outcomes: obstacles to local-level AIDS competence in rural Zimbabwe. AIDS Care 22(S2):1662-1669 | free access